This week Pastor Dave Bruskas leads us through week six of our 1 John: Love One Another series with a message entitled, “Children of God.” In this sermon Pastor Dave takes us through 1 John 2:28–3:10 where we consider the purity and righteousness of Jesus, the degree to which righteousness or rebellion rules in our hearts and lives, and how that relates to the question of who our true Father is.
28 And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. 29 If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.
3:1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.
4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
It’s amazing what a connection Jesus is between strangers. Like, just people who’ve never met before, you know you share that. You share a similar love and you’ve been loved greatly by him, and it just opens up relationships so much more easily.
I was secluded. I was the dude behind his computer screen at home and really no community. And so the first time I actually entered into a Community Group, it was really awkward for me. Like, I didn’t even know how to, like, socially interact with people, and I didn’t want to. But then I saw the benefit of it, and I saw the Holy Spirit just working through people. As a single dude, I didn’t own a vacuum cleaner, and Blair and Christina found out that I didn’t, and they bought me a vacuum cleaner.
I moved up here, had no friends, I had some family. And then through serving at Mars Hill, I met everyone else here and more Mars Hill people, and it was nice to have Christian friends in an area that’s, you know, new and you don’t know many people.
My car ended up being hit while I was at my first group, like, almost totaled. And I went on a vacation right after that, and I came back to the group again and they had raised $500 to help towards my car, which helped with my insurance. And I was like, it’s great to see a community and be able to help and serve someone. Like, the community you have with people you serve with I think is really strong.
It’s just real life. You can’t compartmentalize that. And I just love that about Community Groups is that it makes the serving on Sundays and it makes just, like, what you hear on Sundays in sermons and from the word, like, you can just talk about it and you can apply it in your living, like, in open relationships with people. And I just really love that about Community Group.
Real life is you go and you hang out on a Friday night. Real life is, you know, you help each other out when the car breaks down. As life is, like, lonely and scary, like, it doesn’t have to be. Like, you can get in a Community Group. You can have people around you who care about you, who invest in you, who spend time with you, just to genuinely be loved and love people, and you find that in community.
I want to begin today by showing you a photo of my dad. So, here is my dad. Do you see the resemblance? Do you see that? It’s a fact of life, right, that as children, we reflect our biological fathers. It’s also a spiritual reality. The Bible teaches us spiritually we have one of two fathers. Either we are children of God and we are the children of the only true God, the God of the Bible, or according to the Scripture, we’re children of the devil. And there are telltale signs in our life as to who is our Father. The children of God live righteously while children of the devil live rebelliously.
I want to invite you to open up your Bibles today to 1 John 2, the very end of the second chapter. We’re at almost the end of the Bible. 1 John 2:28, who’s your father? Are you a child of God or are you a child of the devil? How would we know? We’re going to answer those questions today. Before I do anything else though, let me pray.
Father, thank you that you love us. For those of us here today that belong to Jesus, thank you that your word teaches us that you love us with all the love and affection you have for Jesus. You’re not a Father who would abandon us, you’re not a Father who would abuse us, but you love us with a perfect love. Father, I pray that today, as we open up your word, we would understand better than ever before how deeply we are loved by you as your children. Father, I pray for those today who don’t yet know you that they might meet Jesus in the time that we have together, that they might turn from sin and trust in him, and they might become a part of our family. All this we ask together in the name of Jesus, amen.
1 John 2:28, children of God live righteously. “And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink away from him in shame at his coming. If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.”
We pick up right where we left off last week in 1 John. The overriding theme is time is running out. Jesus is coming back. What’s ultimately left to bring all of this history to conclusion is the return to the earth of the Lord Jesus Christ. And what John is saying here to those who are reading his writing is this, “Abide in Jesus.” Same context we covered last week, that this idea that Jesus lives in us, how does that happen? Jesus lives in us as his word lives in us empowered by his Holy Spirit. So Jesus lives in us and we, in turn, are to live in Jesus. We’re to live all of our lives practically in the sphere of Jesus by, through the power of the Holy Spirit, obeying his word. Now, why would we do that? Here’s why, because Jesus is going to return. The word “appears” is a very interesting word in the original language of the New Testament. It’s the idea of a king, a monarch, visiting his subjects that are remote from him. So the king comes to town and he’s to be warmly greeted and received by his subjects. The same is true with King Jesus. King Jesus is coming back, and what John is saying to those who are listening to him is Jesus is coming back. When he returns, you don’t want to be ashamed. You don’t want to shrink away. You want to move to him and not away from him. And the way that you’re going to be able to do that, as you abide in him, you will practice his righteousness. The Bible teaches that you and I have a relationship with God on the basis of the righteousness of Jesus. When we say Jesus is righteous, what we’re saying is Jesus is in right relationship with God by nature and by deed, that all that Jesus is and all that Jesus thinks, says, and does, he is in right relationship with God the Father. The Bible teaches us that Jesus is the second member of the Trinity, God the Son, taking on human form. And as Jesus came to this earth, he doesn’t have a nature like you and I have. He has a nature that’s without sin. That’s why it was important for him to be born of a virgin who was impregnated through the Holy Spirit. Jesus doesn’t inherit a sin nature like you and I do. He is righteous with God the Father, then Jesus lived the only perfect life in word, thought, action, and deed, the only life that’s ever been lived. So Jesus is righteous. As we abide in him, we have his righteousness. We don’t come to God on the basis of who we are or what we do. We come to him on the basis of Jesus, and in essence what we’re doing is we’re living out the righteousness of Jesus when he comes. Here’s the big idea. Jesus is coming back. Jesus is coming back like a monarch, like a king who visits his subjects. And when he returns, we want to be ready. We want to be practicing righteousness. We want to draw near him and worship him when he returns. We don’t want to shrink away. We don’t want to hide. We don’t want to be living in shame.
As a kid, I remember my dad coming home from work. My dad was an entrepreneur, had a couple of different businesses when I was a kid, and so he would come home at different times. His work hours were unpredictable, but he would come and we’d have dinner, and it was kind of the highlight of my day. Love my dad, have great respect for my dad. And when my dad came home, I didn’t want to be hiding in my room. I wanted to greet him. Now, I knew for that to happen and for him to embrace me and to greet him well that the day had to go well, meaning I had to keep his rules. And most importantly to my dad, his greatest rule was that I respect my mom and I help her out, and that I get along with my little brother Bill. I didn’t want my mom to say 5 minutes before my dad walked in the room, “Wait until your father gets home.” I would do whatever it took to make things right so that when my dad came home, I wouldn’t shrink away in shame in my room, but I could embrace him and I would greet him. And I knew he was going to ask me, “How was your day? Did you do right by your mom? Did you do right by your brother?” Yes. That’s the concept here.
John is reminding us we’re still in the last hour. Jesus is coming back and when he comes back, you want to greet him. You want to run to him and not from him. And the way that you can do that is you can practice his righteousness in your life by abiding in him. Chapter 3, verse 1, the children of God live righteously. This is a profound truth. If you walk away with anything today, I want you to own this at a heart level. “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” Are you still in awe over that concept? The God who created the entire universe, who spoke it into being, the God who gives you and I life, the God who sustains our life, the God who one day will call us in account—to give an account for our life to him is the God who loves us like a father loves his children. We’re the children of God and the Father loves us. This is so important to living righteously, as you’ll see in just a minute.
Now, here’s something that helps us make sense of the world around us. “The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” Isn’t that true? People who are outside of the family of God, outside of relationship with Jesus, they don’t necessarily recognize us as the people of God. Why is that? Because they didn’t recognize Jesus. They recognize Jesus, they recognize us. If they don’t recognize Jesus, they won’t recognize us. Mars Hill, this is why it’s so important, as we saw in our intro video, that you’re part of a Community Group. You live in a world who doesn’t know who you are. It’s critically important that beyond Sunday, you participate in the family. And the family belongs to God, it’s his family. He’s the Father, we’re his children. God wants his children to get together and do life together, and that’s what we need to be doing.
Verse 2, “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” Man this is profound. I wish we had hours to cover this. We don’t, so let me just take minutes. Powerful truth that even though we’re the children of God, we’re still in process, right? You’re a work in progress. Turn to your neighbor right now and say, “You’re a work in progress.” Go ahead and do that. Now neighbor, respond to them and say, “Thank you, and so are you too,” all right? Good. It’s not funny, is it? I guess it is. We’re all a work in progress. No one has arrived yet. We’re the beloved children of God, but we aren’t who we’re ultimately going to be when God is done with us through Jesus. But here’s a beautiful image. Guess what happens when we ultimately will see Jesus face to face? We will be translated and transformed exactly and conformed exactly into his character. We’re not there yet. Lot of rough edges, lot of stuff to be worked out, but we’re the children of God, we’re loved before we get there, and God’s love guarantees that someday when we see Jesus face to face, we’ll be just like him. And guess what? He is pure.
This is an interesting concept. If you’ve read throughout the Bible, when you go to the Old Testament before Jesus comes to the earth, we talk about purity ceremonially, right? So purity means you can’t come into the presence of God and have shellfish or pork on your breath, right? There’s certain things that we don’t do. We wash ourselves. We clean ourselves up. You hope that you don’t have certainly bodily functions or you can’t appear before God. When we move towards the New Testament though, and we see this in the words of Jesus, purity doesn’t really come from the outside in. It comes from the inside out. It’s about the heart, it’s about the desires, it’s about the motives. That’s why Jesus says when he was confronted why his disciples didn’t wash their hands well. Jesus said, “It’s not really what goes into a person that makes them unclean, it’s what comes from the heart.” When we say Jesus is pure, we mean he’s entirely pure. He’s without sin. His motives, 100% pure.
Now I want you to see the progression here. Inevitably, some of you are going to walk away here today with the wrong idea. You’re going to think this way. “Okay, what I heard Pastor Dave say was that if we are righteous and do our best to be righteous like Jesus, and if we work on being pure, then God will love us as his children.” That’s wrong. That’s out of order. That’s inside out and upside down biblically. I want you to see the progression here. God loves us first. First comes God’s love for us, perfect in Jesus, then comes righteousness, then comes purity. We’re not righteous and pure so that God will love us, we’re free to be righteous and pure because he already perfectly has in Jesus. Make sense?
Let me show you this from the words of Jesus in case you don’t believe me. Words of Jesus, John 15. Jesus, as he gathers with his disciples, with his guys, on the night before he goes to the cross, says this. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” Similar language, right? Think about that for a minute. How much does Jesus love us? Every bit as much as his Father loved him. How much does God the Father love God the Son? Anybody want to put a number to that? You can’t! It’s unquantifiable. It’s immense. It’s immeasurable. Right, in the great words of Buzz Lightyear, it’s infinity and beyond. That’s how much God the Father loves God the Son. And God the Son says, “I love you that much. Now, live in my love.” That’s what the word “abide” means. “Build your house there in my love.” What does that look like? “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love.” Which comes first, love or obedience? First comes love, then comes obedience. Test case, the life of Jesus. “Just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” When did God the Father first love God the Son? Somewhere in eternity past, right? Forever, God the Father has loved God the Son, not when God the Son became a man, and walked this earth, and lived in obedience. God the Father has always loved God the Son. See the progression here? First comes love, then comes what? Then obedience, not inverse. “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” See the formula here? See the sequence? God loves us perfectly in Jesus. As children of God, we’re perfectly loved by God the Father. And because God loves us so perfectly, we’re free to pursue righteousness and purity because the children of God live righteously.
I remember seeing this truth most profoundly as a dad when my little girls—I’ve got four daughters. When my little girls were little, they always thought I was stronger than I really was. They always thought I was cooler than I really was. They always thought I was more talented than I really was, right? And I remember when they were little and they began to communicate, I remember thinking, like, “Oh, I hope I become the dad that you believe me to be someday because you love me so much. I want to be that one.” That’s what it means to be a Christian.
When God the Father looks at you, he sees you through the lens of Jesus. He sees you in the righteousness of Jesus. He sees you in the purity of Jesus. And the essence of the Christian life is you and I living out practically who we already are in the perspective of God. If you’re a child of God, your life is radically transformed. You’re becoming a woman, you’re becoming a man who thinks, feels, acts, and speaks like Jesus. Why? Because you are perfectly loved. Who’s your father? Is this what your life looks like? You’re not arrived yet. There’s work to be done, but you’re being transformed daily into a person who looks like Jesus. You’re living righteously. The children of God live righteously. Some of you, though, are children of the devil.
Back to our text. 1 John 3:4, “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You may know that he,” Jesus. Listen to this about Jesus. “You may know that he, Jesus, appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.” Verse 6, “No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.” Two words: sinning and lawlessness.
As some of you may know, and maybe some of you don’t, the New Testament of the Bible wasn’t originally written in modern day English. Much of it was written in Koine Greek. In Koine Greek, there are different words that are used to talk about sin. The first word that we have here, “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning,” has a very specific meaning. It means that you break God’s rules. Either you’ve done something you weren’t supposed to do or you didn’t do something you were supposed to do, right? Either way, you’ve transgressed. You’ve broken his rules. The second word, “Lawlessness,” more reflects the essence of the heart. Lawlessness means you rebel against God. You passively shake your first in the face of God and you rebel against him, or you passively, indifferently rebel against him. But either way, the heart issue is you are rebellious towards God and the cause— that’s the cause. The effect is you break his law. Here’s simply what this text is saying. You cannot claim to be a Christian and live continually in rebellion and sin against God. If you are a Christian, not your perfect experience, but your progressive experience is that you are living out the righteousness that Jesus has achieved for you. So, you are righteous and you occasionally sin, not the other way around. You can’t be a Christian and consistently live with rebellion in your heart towards God expressed in sin and breaking his rules in your life.
Now, before you think that we’re talking about perfectionism, we’re not talking about that. John isn’t saying that if you ever sin, you’re no longer a Christian. That’s not what he’s saying at all. Let me prove that to you before you go there. This is what John has already told us in chapter 1 of his letter. 1 John 1:8 says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” That’s why it’s really important to understand what’s happening here. These are present tense verbs. In other words, what’s being said here is you can’t be a Christian and sin—that’s not what it’s saying here. What it’s saying is you can’t be a Christian and practice sin. Your life cannot be defined by sin as you’re a Christian because Jesus so radically has changed who you are that you can’t be in right relationship with him and continually sin without any change or transformation.
Several years ago, a close friend of mine was found out to be having an adulterous relationship with a woman who wasn’t his wife. He’d been acting in a suspicious way for awhile and finally his wife figured out exactly what was going on. And when she confronted him, he came clean and he had a serious decision to make. The nature of this other relationship was so serious that he was in process of divorcing his wife and going on to marry this woman who wasn’t his wife. And we talked a lot in the days leading up to the decision he was going to make, and we would go around and around about issues, and I remember bringing it home. At one point in time I said, “Listen, here’s the deal. What you do next will ultimately determine whether or not you know Jesus. You can’t have a right relationship with Jesus by doing right things. I’m not suggesting that. What I am saying is because you do know Jesus, you will do the right thing.” I said, “You cannot divorce your wife, pursue this other woman, marry her, and think that you have a right relationship with God, because this is true. You can’t claim to be a child of God and your practice predominantly be that of sin.” Thankfully, he turned from his sin, went back into his marriage, and it’s stronger than it’s ever been before.
The children of the devil, they live rebelliously. They live either passively indifferent towards God or defiant and rebellious towards him. But regardless, children of the devil live rebelliously, in contrast to the children of God who live righteously.
Verse 7, “Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he, Jesus, is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning.” Look at this next statement. What a great purpose statement. “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.”
I want you to understand who the devil is. The devil is a created, angelic being who, somewhere before the beginning of the physical earth that we lived in, rebelled against God and led a third of the angels in rebellion against God. And he has continued to rebel against God at every opportunity afforded to him since his initial rebellion. Here’s the concept. If you live in sin, in essence, your sin is breaking God’s rules, not doing what he says for you to do, doing the things he says you can’t, not doing the things he said you should do. If you continue to live there, in your heart is rebellion. It may be a passive, indifferent rebellion, it may be a very active, angry rebellion. And you are, if you’re living in that space day in and day out, you are ultimately reflecting the DNA of your true father, the devil, because that’s how he’s always operated. And you cannot live in that space if you claim to know Jesus, because Jesus came to this earth to do what? Destroy the works of the devil.
This verse is always etched in my mind because one year I was working at a church during the Advent season as we were looking forward towards Christmas and celebrating the coming of Jesus again, and we had one of those old marquees. You know what I’m talking about, where you put the actual letters? You have this long rubber thing and you put the letters on the board. And so, our pastor was preaching on that particular Sunday right before Christmas on the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil, but he said, “Jesus came to destroy the works of Satan.” Well, some clever vandal got to our board and he basically reframed it so the sermon title for that week was, “Jesus came to destroy the works of Santa.” You could only imagine. And I thought, “Okay, I want to see who showed— let’s not change it. Let’s see who shows up this Sunday.”
You cannot claim to be in right relationship with Jesus and not experientially be seeing the works of Satan destroyed in your life. The works of Satan are rebellious. They always have been, they always will be. Verse 9, “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning.” Your life isn’t characterized by perpetual sin with maybe an occasional good thing here or there. It’s the other way around. If you know God, your life is characterized by the outworking of Jesus’ righteousness, and occasionally you blow it big time. Not saying—not endorsing perfectionism here. Some of God’s greatest saints, King David, Peter, blew it big time. But your practice, your signature isn’t sin, it’s righteousness. Verse 10, “By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” That’s even more specific.
“What does righteousness look like in the life of a Christian, Pastor Dave?” It’s this whole letter. It’s the whole sermon series. That’s why it’s been subtitled, “Love One Another.” If I’m in a right relationship with God and I’m living out, by faith, the righteousness of Jesus, guess what I do? I live in a way that I love other Christians. Conversely, if your father isn’t God, but your father is the devil, you don’t consistently practice righteousness, and specifically, you don’t love other Christians well. That’s an incredible metric, isn’t it? That’s a huge litmus test.
I served years ago in a church that was in a rough part of town, and we loved to reach out to the community around us, and we loved to meet very physical needs, and we loved to help people make transformation. Particularly, we loved to take people off the streets and see them move into more permanent housing, see them land jobs. And there were two men that began to come to this church, both by the same first name. We’ll just call them Joe for purposes of today. Two very different men named Joe. One man came and he was so receptive to the community. He came, and he participated, and we helped him out financially, we helped him out materially, and he always responded with gratitude. He always wanted to help others. The other Joe, not so much. Inevitably, no matter how hard we tried to help him, there always was an issue. There always was a conflict, and ultimately Joe would either use or abuse the people that were trying to help them. And so it was in that context that one day, one of our members came to me in the church and said, “Hey, I had a problem with Joe yesterday.” And I said, “Okay, which Joe are we talking about?” He said, “Oh, not Little Joe. I’m talking about Grouchy Joe.” And I said, “Okay, first of all, let’s not identify people by those kinds of adjectives before their name. How about we call them Joe and Joey or Joseph. Let’s distinguish them, but not with adjectives.” But there was a reason that Grouchy Joe was called Grouchy Joe. He refused to love and serve others even who loved and served him. Who is it that uses and abuses the people of God? The devil does that. So in essence, when it comes to Grouchy Joe, the real issue was he wasn’t a child of God. He was a child of the devil. Maybe that’s where you are today. Truth of the matter is you hate Christians. You distance yourself from Christians. You don’t want to have anything to do with Christians. You don’t love, and serve, and give of yourself so that others’ needs are met within the church. That’s not you at all. You need to ask yourself a very important question. Who’s your father? Because that sort of disposition, that sort of activity would indicate that your father is the devil, not God. Now here’s the good news. Even if that’s true, God the Father wants to adopt you as his son. He wants you to turn from your rebellion, turn from your sin, trust in Jesus, experience the forgiveness and freedom that Jesus can bring and begin the rest of your life as a member of the family of God.
Big idea: Jesus is coming back, and when he comes, we don’t want to shrink away in shame. We want to embrace him. We don’t want to run from him, we want to run to him. How do we prepare for that day? We abide in him. We live in the love that he already has for us. What does that look like? It looks like we’re people that are growing in righteousness. It looks like we’re people that are growing in purity. And most importantly, it looks like we’re people who love the other family members of God. I can’t look at my dad today and say, “Dad, I love you but I hate my brother Bill,” because my dad loves me and Bill the same. Children of God live righteously, not so much the children of the devil. They live rebelliously, why? Because they bear the DNA of their father who has always been in rebellion against God.
As we close our time today, I want to look at some amazing truths about Jesus from this text. Three things I want you to see about Jesus, because we’re going to spend the rest of our time today focusing and responding to who Jesus is. First thing I want you to see is this: Jesus is righteous. Jesus is righteous. Jesus is in right relationship with God the Father. Always has been, always will be, and that’s great news for us because we’re not righteous. But Jesus is, and the basis of our relationship as the children of God to God the Father is not on the merit of our own righteousness, but it’s totally based on who Jesus is. Not about who we are and what we’ve done, entirely based on who Jesus is and what he’s done. And he is by nature and deed righteous with God the Father. Maybe you’re here today and you’re thinking, “Oh, I can’t possibly have a right relationship with God because I sin, and I’m weak, and I fail, and I’m inconsistent.” But if your hope, and your trust, and your faith is in the righteousness of Jesus, guess what? You’re in. God loves you because of who Jesus is and what Jesus has done, and Jesus’ righteousness is your righteousness. Would you enjoy today the righteousness of Jesus? You’re righteous, and your righteousness is based on the person and work of Jesus, and that’s great news.
Had an incredible experience last summer. I got to go to training camp with the Seattle Seahawks for one practice. And get this, I got to go in the VIP section. So you go out to their practice facility. You have a separate parking lot you get to park in, then a really nice shuttle bus picks you up and you get to get around. You don’t have to sit on the big grass berm, you get to go around the back of the complex. They have this really amazing place where they just perpetually cook hot dogs and hamburgers, and give you any kind of soft drink you want, and potato chips. Amazing! And you have access on the field that the fans in the berm don’t have. Like, you get to walk right up and watch people walk by and players walk by, and you can hear what they’re doing, and you actually get out on the field. Like, you don’t get to run plays. That’s what I wanted to do. You don’t get to do that, but you get to stay close enough to the action. And I’m just soaking it all in. Like, I can’t believe I’m here. This is amazing. And I begin to look around. I don’t know why it took me so long to figure this out. Like, let me figure out the kind of crowd I’m in. And I looked around and you know who else was in the VIP group? Former players and family members of current players. And all of a sudden I realized, like, I don’t belong here. These people are here because they’ve earned it. These people are here because they used to play for the Seahawks or their brother, or their father, or their husband presently does. And all the sudden, I realized I am enjoying the benefits of something I could never earn on my own. That’s the significance of the righteousness of Jesus. That’s what Jesus has accomplished for us. You and I today are righteous, not because of who we are or what we’ve done, but entirely because of who Jesus is and what he’s done. Will you enjoy your righteousness in Jesus? Will you take your eyes off yourself for a little bit, and your failure, and your sin, and your unrighteousness, and will you fix your gaze on Jesus because he’s righteous?
Second thing I want you to see is this: Jesus destroys rebellion. He’s a powerful King. Two enormous statements are made about Jesus in our text today. First of all, he came to take away sins, and he came to destroy the work of Satan, of the devil. And Jesus is a powerful King who is quelling our rebellion. And he’s doing it in your heart and he’s doing it in my heart, and he’s doing it in our homes, and he’s doing it in Mars Hill Church and he’s doing it in his broader church. And guess what? He’s ultimately going to do it in the whole world so that ultimately someday— the Scripture’s very clear on this—every tongue will confess, every knee will bow to Jesus the Great King. All rebellion will cease forever. How’s it going in your heart? How’s it going in your home? Are you experiencing Jesus stomping out and putting down the rebellion that exists in your own heart and your own home? Are we experiencing this in our church? Are we seeing this happen as the kingdom of God invades the kingdom of this earth?
Jesus said this about the devil. John 8:44, Jesus says that the devil has always been a murderer. So when you and I look at murder in our world today, we see vestiges of satanic rebellion against King Jesus. But as the kingdom of God expands and King Jesus quells and puts down the rebellion, murder goes away. I stand before you today as a murderer. This is what Jesus said about murder, Matthew 5:22. Jesus said, “You’ve heard it said that thou shall not commit murder.” And you and I are thinking, “Okay, well, I got out of that one. I haven’t really stabbed anyone to death. I haven’t shot anyone to death.” But Jesus, like he always does, redefines what murder is. In Matthew 5:22, Jesus says this: “Anyone who looks at his brother and calls him a fool,” literally calls him an empty-headed moron, anybody who does that is “guilty of murder and worthy of the fires of hell.” Uh-oh, I’m a murderer. I’m like a serial killer. To make matters worse, it seems like it happens every time I get out on the road, right? I’m still not used to driving in an urban area. I’m the guy who perpetually underestimates how far it takes me to get from this destination to that destination. To make matters even more complicated and worse, when I’m running behind, I tend to tailgate and I’ve never gotten used to the concept of parallel parking yet. So inevitably, I’m 15 minutes late for something I should have known about. I’m tailgating the car in front of me. This car is looking to parallel park. We pass an open spot. This car hits its brake and then I have to back up. Happened to me just this past week. You know what came out of my mouth when that happened? “What are you doing, you idiot?” Murder. I just killed the guy according to Jesus. Jesus is working on me. Jesus destroys rebellion. Jesus came so that Dave wouldn’t live as a murderer forever. He’s working in my heart. He’s working in our home. He’s working in our church, isn’t he? Don’t you look forward to the absolute victory of the Lord Jesus Christ? Won’t you be glad that morning you wake up and you never have to read about another beheading, why? Because Jesus is destroying the works of the devil.
Mars Hill Church, I want you to know this about your Jesus. Jesus is pure. He’s pure! He’s perfectly sinless. His motives are pure. His desires, pure. His intent, pure. You believe that? One thing motivates the heart of Jesus. He is absolutely pure, and that’s always. You and I can never look at Jesus and say, “What’s your motive? I don’t know.” Jesus ultimately lives for the glory of God the Father and our good. The Bible makes it very clear.
Mars Hill Church, it’s been a painful season, hasn’t it? All the controversies, hurts, the conflict from within, people that we absolutely love leave, leaders in time not getting along with each other. And if indeed Jesus is our Senior Pastor and we believe that, occasionally you have to look at Jesus and say, “What are you doing here? What’s your motive? What’s going on here?” You don’t have to question the motive of Jesus. He’s pure. And even when people do things that are impure, and sinful, and wrong, Jesus is capable of redeeming everything and ultimately will do exactly that. You know what Jesus is doing at Mars Hill? You know what his desire is? The glory of God the Father and the good of his people. You can trust it. You can trust it.
I want us to respond to that Jesus right here, right now. I’m going to ask our financial stewards to go ahead and come forward. One of the ways in which we worship Jesus week in and week out is by giving to his people and to his cause graciously and generously, and we’re going to take up an offering now. And I’d encourage you to worship Jesus through the giving of your tithes and offerings. We’re going to take Communion together. Those of us who are here who are Christians, I invite you to take Communion. Communion is a beautiful sacrament we practice week in and week out, and here’s why. Communion reminds us always that our righteousness is in Jesus, not ourselves, right? We realize that our righteousness is in the body of Jesus, Jesus’ perfect life. We recognize that our righteousness is in the blood of Jesus, Jesus’ substitutionary death on our behalf. Will you take Communion today with a heartfelt conviction that your righteousness is based on Jesus, and therefore you can be perfectly secure in your relationship with God? We’re going to sing some songs. As we sing together, will you sing as children who are loved by your Father? Sing to your Father today. Let’s pray.
Jesus, thank you that you are righteous. Thank you that our righteousness is in you. Jesus, thank you that you are destroying the works of the devil. We pray that you would destroy the works of the devil in our hearts, in our home, in our church, and the world around us. Jesus, thank you that you are pure. Forgive us for doubting your motive ever. Give us the faith to see that you’re always about the glory of your Father and you’re always committed to the good of your people. In your good name we pray, amen.